Life will empty us if we never take the time to refill our own souls.
I have run away.
I took a week off from work, kissed my husband and kid good bye and headed into the North Woods of Maine.
There are moments in life when my soul yearns for solitude. There are moments when it demands it and I must acquiesce or the unsettled feeling intensifies to the point my skin itches and my legs become so restless I can’t sit still. Everyday life noise, noise I normally find soothing, become too much – amplified inside my mind.
I used to feel guilty about this. I used feel selfish about wanting to be alone. Needing to be alone.
Until the first time I went away by myself and realized how necessary it was.
It’s hard to find your center when you never take the time to sit in silence with yourself. It’s hard to see your strength when you are constantly surrounded by a safety net. It’s even harder to quiet your mind and find the stillness inside your soul if you never take time to only be you. Not wife, not mother, not husband, friend, employee or caregiver. We all play so many roles on a daily basis that we tend to lose touch with the most primal, intuitive role of all – being ourselves.
Life will empty us if we never take the time to refill our own souls.
I give of myself every day: to my family, friends, work, coaching and day to day life. I am busy – all the time. Finally, one day, my soul whispered a much needed message: I needed solitude and silence. I felt like I had nothing left to give because I hadn’t taken any pauses in the craziness of life to refill myself. I became so involved in being and doing, I had let myself run dry. Without even realizing I began to withdraw, feel cranky and impatient. So impatient. My soul itched and the restlessness would not subside. I could no longer hear my thoughts, quiet my mind or know where my life was to go next. I was anxious all the time because I had lost touch with my own feelings, thoughts and emotions.
I was running on empty.
This was unacceptable to me.
Sometimes all you need is an hour or two, sometimes a whole day - away. Then there are the times when you need as much time as it takes. It doesn’t make you selfish. It doesn’t mean you love your family or friends any less. It doesn’t mean you’re cracking up or losing your mind. It doesn’t mean anything other than you need silence, solitude and alone time. It’s not a sign of weakness. Actually, having the ability to be alone with yourself takes a lot of courage.
Courage? To be alone?
Well yes, if you are avoiding things, being alone has a tendency to make them impossible to ignore any longer. Sitting in silence with just your own thoughts for company, can be terrifying. Mainly because you can’t really get away from yourself or tune yourself out completely when not being distracted by the background music of life. It takes courage to sit alone with yourself, especially if maybe you haven’t been being completely honest with yourself about something in your life. Solitude and silence brings everything you have sequestered to the dark recesses of your mind to the forefront of your consciousness so that you may sit with it finally and make decisions on what you need to do or address what you have been ignoring.
It also takes courage, particularly in today’s society, to go out on your own. To a restaurant, a movie or to do something that most think that it’s a requirement to have someone with them. Lunch, alone? What would people think? How do you behave? People will think I am lonely and a loser. Who does that?
Well, I for one, do it all the time.
When I started working on this piece, I was sitting on the deck of a restaurant overlooking Moosehead Lake in Northern Maine. All by myself. The lunch rush was piling in; families, couples and groups of friends. I’m was sitting there - solo. I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of the woman on the deck all alone. Chances are they weren’t really thinking anything. Well, aside from one stressed out mother, she looked a bit jealous. Know what I was doing? Thinking, writing words and chasing thoughts around my mind. I was staring off into the distant mountains for inspirations, watching loons as they swam by, following the flight of the float planes and thinking of how refreshing it would be to go jump in the lake for a while. The only thing I tried really hard not to do – talk to myself out loud. Something I tend to do when I am writing and I never realize it until someone looks at me like I’m looney tunes.
Being alone gives fresh insights a chance to bloom.
After I left the restaurant I hopped into my truck and headed west, deeper into the north woods. I didn’t see another car for an hour. Talk about solitude. I have things in my life I need to mull over, things I need some fresh thoughts on. So, I drove. Alone with my thoughts. For hours. When I pulled off the road at one point, because I needed a few moments to drink in the mountains without trying to stay on the road – one of those fresh new insights came to me. One needs to remember while traveling the road of life – to pull over once and awhile and enjoy the view. A little while and few miles later, another one - that no matter how big the mountains that pop up in my world – I will make it over them. Sometimes, when you have run yourself down or let your mind become too cluttered it becomes easy to forget what it feels like to be free and unburdened. It’s hard to remember how far you’ve come or get overwhelmed by how far you feel you still have to go. But seeing those mountains, driving through them, reminded me - I haven’t met one yet that challenged me to the point I quit. Seems like I needed that reminder.
Life is all about perspective. If our perceptions become overshadowed by everything we carry with us inside and we do not step into our solitude to do a bit of internal housekeeping – we get lost in the darkness and lose track of ourselves. During my travels I came across an old cabin in the woods, though sturdy it appeared neglected. Overgrowth surrounded it, the windows covered with dust and cobwebs. It just needed some love and attention to bring it back to life. We are like that cabin. We all need to time to ourselves to think freely, unencumbered by obligations. Time alone where we have to be no one but ourselves. To do a bit of soul cleaning. Dusting out what is no longer working for us and letting the fresh air in to revitalize our thoughts, dreams and aspirations.
Solitude and silence is an open door invitation to your soul whispers to come forth into your conscious thoughts and shed light onto your life, your tomorrows and the facets of your life needing attention. It’s a chance to get to know yourself better, to remember who you were before the world got in the way, before life happened and to see where you want to go from here.
Make the time.
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